You might’ve noticed on the end of a wedding or interview invitation, ‘dress smart casual’. But what does this mean? The line can sometimes become blurred between too formal and too casual, so what should you be wearing? CT Shirts, retailers of men’s shirts, have provided us with some handy tips.
1. Smart casual is a safe option
If you haven’t been provided with any guidance on what to wear, it can be hard to decide what you pull out your wardrobe. Some offices and workplaces have ‘dress down Fridays’ or a casual dress code every day. However, it’s still nice to make an effort and look reasonably smart — even if this doesn’t involve a three-piece suit and tie.
In other instances, you’re told to go for smart casual. At a dinner party for example, where a formal tuxedo is not expected but jeans and a T-shirt would be frowned upon. Or, for a first interview — it may specify casual in the email, but first impressions count, and your outfit should still be carefully considered.
2. Purchase some staple items
Don’t think that you need to buy a whole new closet to master the smart casual look. Simply invest in a few staple items to achieve the look.
Definitely purchase a fashionable blazer — this can transform an outfit. It depends on your fashion preferences as to what sort of blazer you opt for — just choose one that you feel confident in and it will show. An unstructured blazer is perfect for men who prefer a relaxed look and who want to avoid a rigid and overly tailored shape. Some believe that these are more comfortable too, as they are without inner folds and allow you to move more freely. A structured blazer, on the other hand, emphasizes the shape of the body. It gives more of a snug fit to the wearer and is generally more expensive, as it takes great skill to create an impressive jacket of this style. Navy is a good choice for a blazer as it is very versatile and not as formal as the traditional black jacket.
Another must-have is suitable and stylish footwear. Depending on your preferences, choose a pair of brogues or loafers to complete a smart casual look. Brogues are uber stylish and recognisable by their detailed leather uppers and thin laces. Loafers, on the other hand, are lower shoes so the ankle is exposed, they do not have laces and often have a low heel. They can be seen as less formal than the brogue because more of the foot is on show. In terms of colour, brown is a good colour to go for as it can be paired with denim or smart trousers, whereas black may be too dark to complement some colours.
Choose some trousers that complement the rest of your outfit. A light pair of chinos are a good option for warmer weather, as they can brighten up your outfit whilst keeping you looking smart. If you feel more comfortable in jeans, try to choose a darker denim as this gives off a more formal vibe — just avoid distressed or ripped denim at all costs.
3. A shirt or jumper is appropriate
As always with style, the main thing is to wear what you feel comfortable in. This might mean a jumper in the colder months and a shirt during spring and summer.
The stylish roll-neck
If you choose to wear a jumper, a roll-neck style could be perfect. Pair a black wool roll-neck with a grey slim fit jacket and coloured pocket square to become the master of business casual. Match your socks with your pocket square for co-ordination and wear your favourite pair of swanky trousers.
An unbuttoned shirt
Dress down your shirt with an open collar. An open collar shirt paired with a double-breasted jacket can create an ideal look for the fashion-conscious gentleman. Choose complementing colours for the shirt and blazer, such as different hues of blue or grey, to really make your outfit come together. Slip into tailored trousers, chinos or jeans and pair with brogues to complete the look.
Smart casual has been decoded! Of course, keeping your outfit neat and tidy is important too, so don’t let smaller details drop you into the ‘casual’ bracket. Have a lint roller on hand before leaving the house and make sure you always look your best.